Wolves at Bucks
7:00 pm CST
It's been a disappointing year for the Bucks, who have regressed from last season's surprising success due to a major defensive downgrade. They traded in some of their defensive prowess for offense--letting Zaza Pachulia go in favor of marquee signing Greg Monroe for example--and the results have not been favorable when combined with their expensive acquisition of Michael Carter-Williams at last year's trade deadline.
They currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference and out of the playoff picture, but there are some good signs, including wins in five of their last nine contests. Giannis Antetokounmpo is, at 21, emerging as a do-everything player, shooting over 50% from the field, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven boards a game to go along with impact in the assists, steals and blocks column; Jabari Parker appears back from his rookie year ACL tear and has been scoring in bunches lately, going over 20 points in four of his last seven contests, including 36 in a win over the Rockets on Sunday.
Khris Middleton continues to show he's worth his contract, converting on over 40% of his three pointers and contributing in multiple ways. Middleton sits fourth in the league in RPM among shooting guards. All three of those players are 24 or younger, which is not a bad place to start.
Unfortunately, their point guard situation remains problematic, with MCW not providing what they hoped for (and currently injured), and Greivis Vasquez a disappointment (and also injured), and the front court leaves much to be desired especially on the defensive end where Greg Monroe has not been the addition they expected despite decent scoring numbers. The Bucks are last in the league in defensive rebound %, a significant failing that is costing them possessions and points.
The Wolves will need to take advantage of that and get second chance opportunities and actually convert, something they could not do the first time these teams met back in January at Target Center. That night, the Wolves shot under 40% from the field, and despite 16 offensive rebounds, couldn't keep up with the Bucks after leading by 13 at the end of the first quarter. The Bucks dominated the rest of the game en route to a 95-85 win that the Wolves will be looking to turn around tonight.
An interesting sidelight tonight will be the play of Ricky Rubio, who the Bucks apparently tried quite vigorously to trade for before the deadline, though were unwilling to meet the Wolves demands. Jason Kidd is apparently a big fan of Rubio, so we'll see if RIcky can show off for Kidd tonight.
Also of interest will be the wing match ups. The Bucks start two very tall, long wing players in Antetokounmpo and Middleton, and are starting O.J. Mayo at the one in the absence of their other point guards, leaving the Wolves badly undersized and not nearly physical enough if they go with the LaVine-Wiggins pairing on the wing. Meanwhile, while having one of Towns or Dieng guard Jabari Parker might be a mismatch in the Wolves favor on offense and on the boards, asking one of them to guard a perimeter oriented combo forward like Parker is going to be tough. How Sam Mitchell approaches this will be something to pay attention to.
Our blogging buddies are over at Brew Hoop, be excellent.
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Enjoy. Chat . Go.
The Bucks will be without Carter-Williams, Vasquez, and John Henson, all out with injury, while the Wolves will be without Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Garnett.